The ‘Inspirience Center’ in Belgium was Puratos’ new global innovation hub, forming part of a global network which included innovation centers in China and Brazil. R&D efforts in the center would focus on global technologies in bakery, chocolate and patisserie to be passed onto local teams for further market-specific development.
Pierre Tussot, group R&D director at Puratos, said there would be several focuses across bakery in the innovation center.
“If we speak about bread, taste is central in everything we do… There is a lot of activity in this new center around fermentation – looking at new flavors; new ways of improving bread taste and texture using fermentation,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Puratos had installed new fermenting equipment to run sourdough processing on and cater to increased research in the area, he said.
For cakes and sweet baked goods, he said there would be continued research into freshness and moisture.
“Another big pillar of research we do is around nutrition and this goes across the different product categories. So this is about adding more fiber to the product, increasing the fruit in fillings, reducing sodium, and reducing fat and sugar in sweet goods,” he said.
Innovation icebergs and coffee chats
Tussot said the global innovation hub would bring new dynamics to business.
“At a recent meeting, we compared knowledge to an iceberg: You have what you see out of the water, but there’s a lot under water that you don’t see because you build it over time and you haven’t seen it for a while and therefore forget it."
What the center would enable, he reasoned, was investigation into areas of innovation ‘under water’ that had perhaps been forgotten about.
“With the interaction between the teams in R&D and marketing we can really stimulate interactions to maximize the quality and output of our innovation process.”
For example there had been simple things done in the new center to facilitate idea building, he said. “We’ve given more importance to the coffee machine, for example – it’s the place where you chat and ask questions to your colleagues.”
Manufacturers expect knowledge
Puratos had also worked to ensure it was geared up to increased demands for knowledge and collaboration on new product development.
The innovation center had 400 people working in R&D but also 350 application specialists working directly with manufacturers on implementing technologies and new formulations.
“When a customer requires technical support in a plant, according to the kind of project or application, we would send one of our persons. It’s something we’ve been building over the years but in the last 10 years, the need became even more critical than it was before,” he said.
The center also had dedicated staff working on patents, on nutrition and sensory analysis, he said. “These competences are based in this center and used to support the global group.”
Puratos held its ground-breaking ceremony for the center back in March, 2013 that BakeryandSnacks.com attended.